Religion and inter-ethnic peace and harmony in Manipur

Hareshwar Goshwami *

Mass Rally for the common future of Manipur from THAU Ground to Khuman Lampak :: 06th February 2016
Mass Rally for the common future of Manipur from THAU Ground to Khuman Lampak in February 2016 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam

"In this world hatred can never be appeased by hatred. Hatred can only be appeased by love. This is the eternal law." (A Saying from Buddhism)

Manipur is a home of several divergent groups of people following almost all the major religions of the world. Mention may be made of the composition of the people of Manipur (religion wise) as per Census Report of 2011 is; Hindus (41.39%), Christians (41.29%), Musalmans (08.40%) (Also known as Meitei-Pangals), others including Meitei/Meetei who still pursue the traditional Meitei/Meetei religion (8.19%),.

Besides, numerically small number of Buddhist (0.25%) also co-exist with these larger sections. From this point of view Manipur can be described as a multi-religious and multi-cultural society. Religiously speaking, the major communities in Manipur are the Meiteis most who adopted Hinduism and the hill tribes who mostly pursue Christianity.

Meitei Hindus worship Hindu Gods and Goddesses besides Lainingthou Sanamahi the supreme God of the Manipuri Meiteis and also believe in other sylvan deities of the traditional Meitei religion. In fact, Hinduism in Manipur was transformed to suit the soil of the land by ruling Manipuri kings from time to time, since its introduction in Manipur in the early part of the eighteen century. One of the chief architects of the present structure of Meitei-Hinduism is Raja Rishi Bheigyachandra (1759-1761 AD), (1763-1798 AD) who had synchronized the two great oriental and occidental cultures.

As for now, Manipur rarely witnessed any major communal flare ups based on religion. But still there seems to be inter-religious and inter-ethnic tensions looming around in the horizon. However, most of these apprehensions have arisen out of socio-economic and political issues which have not been properly addressed. No doubt, there seems to be some resentment among communities following diverse religions. The focal point of these resentments among divergent ethnic and sub-ethnic groups may be described as lack of tolerance, lack of understanding and the emergence of pseudo religious leaders and politicians.

The major religious community in Manipur is the Meitei-Hindus, who worship Hindu Gods and Goddesses besides Lainingthou Sanamahi, the Supreme Deity of the Manipuri Meiteis. In fact, since its introduction in the early part of the eighteen century, Hinduism in Manipur has been transformed to suit the soil of the land by ruling Manipuri kings from time to time. The main architect of the present structure of Meitei-Hinduism is Raja Rishi Bheigyachandra (1759- 1761 AD), (1763-1798 AD) who had synchronized the two great oriental and occidental culture.

In fact, these days the moral content of all religions and its peace-promoting spiritual values are apparently clouded by more attractive materialistic values. Many followers of different religions have ignored or insulted the principles of their religious teachers in order to seek power, fame and other material gains for their personal benefits. That tends to pollute the minds of modern religionists and cause unhealthy competitions and barriers amongst different religious groups as well as within the same religious community.

To create a healthy atmosphere towards a culture of inter-religious and inter-ethnic peace and harmony in Manipur, I would like to place some suggestions mainly inspired and referred from the writings of Dr.K. Sri Dhamananda, a Buddhist monk and scholar of great repute.

Tolerance and Respect: Tolerance and respect are two vital words that should be borne in mind in a multi-religious and multi-ethnic society. One should not only preach tolerance but try, on every possible occasion, to put into practice the benevolent spirit of tolerance as this spirit would go a long way in creating an atmosphere leading to peace and harmony.

We may not understand or appreciate the inherent values of certain religious rituals or practice carried out by certain co-religionists. Similarly, others may not be in a position to understand or appreciate our own rituals or practices. If we do not want others to mock our actions, we should not ridicule others too. We should try to understand the practices which are foreign to us as it will help to create a better understanding, thus enhancing the spirit of tolerance amongst the followers of the multi-religious denominations.

To Be Considerate: Even as knowing the fact that in this country we are privileged to carry out our respective religious rites and practices without any hindrance, we must realize that we are living in a multi-religious and multi-ethnic society. Try to be considerate at all times in whatever we do. We must not forget the feelings of our neighbors who happen to be followers of different religions and who may not appreciate certain ritualistic performances which are foreign to them.

Whatever religious or cultural practices performed by us must be done within reasonable limits and within the confines of our homes without causing undue disturbances to the peace and serenity of our neighborhood. If we rigidly insist that we have the right to perform our rites and rituals, however noisy, awkward or irritating to others, without caring for the feelings of our neighbors, we would definitely be courting trouble or difficulties particularly in a multi-religious and multi-ethnic neighborhood.

Religious Education: To co-exist in peace and harmony in a multi-religious, multi-ethnic society, we should have a sound religious education with strong emphasis on moral and ethical values as the first positive step towards better understanding and mutual co-operation amongst all religionists.

All religionists should unite and co-operate with one another to promote and endorse a proper and systematic religious education, not only of a particular religion, but on the essentials of all religious teachings that would enlighten as well as give an insight into the nature of higher spiritual values of life, particularly its moral and ethical values.

Inter-Religious Organizations : To help and create a better inter-religious understanding and mutual regard for one another would be the setting up of inter-religious organizations catering for the holding of regular lectures, talks, discussions, seminars (like today's) and forums on religions and allied subjects. In doing so, the focus of motivation should always be on the search for common goals leading to peace and harmony rather than the adoption of an attitude of supremacy or domination of one faith over another.

Common Welfare Activities: The holding of fellowship meetings, the institution of community service programmes and other social and welfare activities where all religionists work hand-in-hand for a common humanitarian cause, to uplift the lot of the more unfortunate ones in society would serve as a means for a common bond of friendship leading to inter-religious peace and harmony.

Youth Clubs: Another important area where religionists should seriously address themselves is in the field of youth organizations and related activities. The youths of today are the adults of tomorrow. They should not be allowed to stray into pitfalls of the present age. All the youthful energies and resources should be properly harnessed and directed towards constructive purposes. They should be apprised of all the fundamental teachings of religion in promoting a peaceful and harmonious society and not fed with venom decrying one faith against another.

Lastly, in a State like ours where religious fanaticism is almost unknown and ethnic intolerance is at the very stage of its inception, the role of politicians as well as that of the people at Governance is also very significant. Most of us are aware that all means are free and fair for some of the politicians.

However, religious platforms should not be opened for those politicians who might ruin the religious peace and tranquility through their political attachment. As such, political activities should not be guided by the principle of a particular religion as it might hurt the feeling and sentiment of other co-religionist. Otherwise, peace and tranquility in the State could be a distant dream.

* Hareshwar Goshwami wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on April 01, 2017.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • NH-102 (Maram road) landslide :: Gallery
  • Plea from Kumbi Shandhong P/S :: Gallery
  • Featured Photo for 2017 #3 :: Gallery
  • May I Have Two Names?
  • Procession of Jagabondhu Rath Yatra
  • DBT project positions at Manipur University
  • Career Opportunities at TASHI Interiors
  • Condemns neglect of Collegiate Education
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • NPF clarifies on party whip
  • Dialogue with UNC; ILP demand
  • Perils and possibilities
  • Chingarel Biodiversity Park #2 :: Gallery
  • Poukenpon, Nehkholam :: eMing
  • Manipur Girls win 'Oorja' National Football
  • My visit to Shri Lanka #2
  • Reforestation & afforestation
  • Coaching Scholarship to UPSC aspirants
  • Sendra Park & Resort #5 :: 360 ° View
  • Program Manager at Library for All, Ukhrul
  • Sadar Hills District Demand: News Timeline
  • Statement from NPF Kohima on BJP
  • NPF condemns Nagaland Governor
  • NPF snapping ties with BJP ..repercussion
  • Lesser truth in Manipur education sector
  • Landslide at Jiribam Highway #2 :: Gallery
  • Super Division Football #1 :: Gallery
  • Shirui Lily Festival 2017
  • On MPSC's new syllabus for MCSCCE
  • Death is An Art :: Poem
  • Assistant professor, ECE wanted at NERIST
  • New Head Coach Joao Deus for NEUFC
  • Free eye care camp at Loktak Power Station
  • 40 positions in Bangalore & Hyderabad
  • Threats to the idea of Manipur
  • A virtual dream
  • Travelling in Ukhrul District #2 :: Gallery
  • Echoes of the people
  • Various shades of Irom Sharmila
  • High Court Campus, Imphal :: 360 ° View
  • The savage! :: Poem
  • Jobs for the unemployed
  • Scheduled Tribe ki list ta yaohallu
  • Humanitarian assistance to flood victims
  • The call: Separate administration for tribals
  • Resignation of Parliamentary Secretaries
  • Tribute to Sapam Robinhood #2 :: Gallery
  • Imphal city flooded [13 July] #2 :: Gallery
  • The Suitable Boy
  • Fire safety and prevention #2
  • The Man with the Place :: Poem
  • How do we elect the President of India
  • NPF open to a total reconciliation process
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand : Timeline
  • Plea to protect Manipur ponies
  • Also nail those who gave the order
  • Echum Lairembi, Khurkhul #2:: Gallery
  • Aerial survey of flood :: Gallery
  • Sendra Park & Resort #4 :: 360 ° View
  • Experience in Militarized Landscape
  • Medical: Humanitarian service or job security
  • Deconstructing "THE Thoughts"
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Fate of JNIMS: MCI may cancel recognition
  • Landslide at Jiribam Highway #1 :: Gallery
  • Subroto Football @Wangjing #1 :: Gallery
  • Rejoinder to Bala & 'Manipuri Feminists'
  • Black sheep in the movement for ILPS
  • My visit to Shri Lanka
  • My First Acquaintance:: Poem
  • Present Flood Situation In Manipur #2
  • Representation submitted to Nagaland Guv
  • Wanted: Noah's Ark for NE
  • Blessing for Sharmila
  • Cabinet outside Imphal: Taking all on board
  • 'Huranbagi Tarani Mapugi nongma'
  • Imphal city flooded [13 July] #1 :: Gallery
  • Wari - Aben :: e-pao Radio
  • Kang Joydeva Chongba #2 :: Gallery
  • In the Quaint Leikai-Village of Kwatha
  • Manipur Sangai International Digital Salon
  • Imphal National Model Shooting Workshop
  • Awunching Biodiversity Park #1 :: 360 ° View
  • Effective Communication for Careers
  • Manipur Girls advance to semi finals
  • Eggs pass Manipur fitness test
  • Making their stand known: On collision..
  • Will BJP Govt. able to defuse it
  • Battle Of Khongjom & Manipuris in 1891 #2
  • A Copula in Manipuri Language ?
  • Brain drain: A burning issue in India
  • Seagull Seagull :: Poem
  • Minister Yitachu Speaks Out
  • Rs 131 crore lost in Manipur flood
  • National media ignoring NE floods
  • It is BJP & BJP all over: Silence of Congress
  • Menace of Mob Justice
  • Professional Ethics or Personal Security
  • Tourist Watch Tower, Khongjom #2 :: 360 °
  • Monsoon rain :: Poem
  • Look Locally act Nationally
  • Nisa na khunaida piba cheitheng
  • Delayed 50 Bedded Tamenglong Hospital
  • NPF points out Model Code of Conduct
  • Hope for kin of 'fake encounter' victims
  • Next round of tripartite talks : Dists creation
  • The flash flood in Manipur is manmade
  • Ukhongsang village, Heirok :: Gallery
  • Sub-Junior Boys Football #2 :: Gallery
  • Unauthorized selling of high priced Meds
  • Once in a blue moon Chief Secretary
  • Free counselling program for students
  • Twinging Turns of Life :: Poem
  • Highways cut off, paddy fields inundated
  • Rights of the consumers
  • Echum Lairembi, Khurkhul #1:: Gallery
  • Kanglen Kang Chingba #2 :: Gallery
  • Edu Min @TG Higher Secondary :: Gallery
  • Cheiraoba Ching Kaba #8 :: 360 ° View
  • Head-huntings : Nagas' perspective #2
  • Personal chit chat: Modi & Trump
  • Emergency meeting of Naga People's Front
  • Removal of Armed Forces from Loukoipat
  • September ultimatum from JCILPS
  • Tribute to Sapam Robinhood #1 :: Gallery
  • Kang Joydeva Chongba #1 :: Gallery
  • Nabakishore's unceremonious removal...
  • The God was made :: Poem
  • Conference on Cinematic Tourism for NE
  • Promo Fashion Show of NE Fashion Week
  • ..ensure removal of army camp from Univ
  • Can Indo-Naga political issue be a secret
  • Kang Khichri chaba :: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Depigmentation- Hope for vitiligo patients
  • Van Mahotsava celebration 2017
  • Traffic issues of Imphal
  • A Bunch of Forget-me-nots :: Poem
  • NCC should become mandatory : Governor
  • Memo to CM on army camp at Manipur Univ
  • Unceremoniously showing the exit door
  • "Framework agreement" on the limelight
  • Camping @ Phangrei, Ukhrul #2 :: Gallery
  • Khongjom War Memorial #1 :: 360 ° View
  • Beat non-communicable diseases
  • Paramedical courses as career option
  • What is virtual reality of GST?
  • Soft Skill Trainer required at JCRE
  • NEFIS with MUSU meets army officials
  • Dynamic Enterpreneurship 2.0 at Imphal
  • Making education a free zone
  • Traffic haunt
  • Bone-Setter of Maiba-Maibi Laiyeng Pathap
  • Bhagirathi Ganga : Dance by Lianda Folk
  • Use coconut water for cleaning face skin
  • The will-o'-the-wisp
  • Appraising trajectory of migration in India
  • is hiring
  • Jobs at Vitsofts Tech, Canchipur
  • EMRS Kpi: Breaking Imphal monopoly
  • People spend 15-day in a year at traffic
  • Kanglen Kang Chingba #1 :: Gallery
  • Sub-Junior Boys Football #1 :: Gallery
  • Introspecting Some Old Games :: Folk
  • Head-huntings : Nagas' perspective #1
  • Myths and facts about beef ban
  • 2nd Prof. Mahale Memorial Talk at MU: Video
  • UDAY Scheme: Progress Snapshot
  • Disaster 2 month: Declaring State calamity
  • The wrath of Mother Nature
  • Battle Of Khongjom & Manipuris in 1891 #1
  • Kakching community gardening :: Gallery
  • 'One shop - One flower' at Kakching
  • Travelling along the infamous NH-2
  • The charge of Mothers :: Poem
  • Cinnamon to tackle metabolic syndrome
  • NSCN-IM & KIM must stop war of words
  • Nagaland CM hopeful of early solution
  • Need a strong Opposition: stand of Cong
  • Exploring the unexplored
  • Great June Uprising #4 :: Gallery
  • Id-ul-Fitr @Imphal #2 :: Gallery
  • Letter to Delhi Golf Club
  • Lost Tranquility :: Poem
  • Conference: India-Vietnam Relations
  • Smiles to Children of Blind School
  • Question of GST before the people
  • Kang Tournament #1 :: Gallery
  • Konung Kang Chingba #2 :: Gallery
  • Landscape of Ukhrul #1 :: Gallery
  • Football League @Awang Sekmai :: Gallery
  • Monna Sengao lakpa :: e-pao Radio
  • Books & Coffee: Trend set by Bishantham
  • Brahmacharimayum Roji-Photo #2 :: eRang
  • Junior Girls District Football #2 :: Gallery
  • Great June Uprising #3 :: Gallery
  • Kang Chingba @Singjamei :: Gallery
  • 15th Mega Miss North East :: Gallery
  • Mary Khyriem is Mega Miss North East
  • Suman Ningthoujam is Mega Mister NE
  • Three Mothers Art Gallery :: Gallery
  • Subhadra chhuri huranba :: Funga Wari
  • Angkor Wat - Cambodia #6 :: Gallery
  • Earth crack at Kangpokpi #2 :: Gallery
  • Lai Khong Chingba @Thangjing #4
  • Yeningthagi Wari Kumhei :: Gallery
  • Arbind Soibam (Singer) :: Erang Photos
  • Film Personalities #3 :: eRang Classic
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #5 : Ooba
  • HSE 2017 : Toppers in Science :: Gallery
  • Landscape of Manipur #6: Wallpaper